Most people heard this lesson when they were kids: “Take responsibility for your mistakes.”
However, in the legal system, people and companies must be made to take responsibility, which means if you’re involved in an accident with a commercial truck, you shouldn’t be surprised when the trucking company denies all responsibility.
Typically, the truck driver and the trucking company deny each and every one of the allegations made in a complaint. For you and other victims of trucking accidents, this can be infuriating. Not only are they denying fault for causing your injury and suffering, but they’re trying to say that you, the victim, are actually to blame.
It’s maddening, but as I’ll explain in this article, this reaction from the trucking industry is normal in our legal system. By understanding how the legal process works, you can hopefully experience less stress and outrage as your lawsuit proceeds.
Expect to Hear Lies
As a trucking accident attorney, believe me when I say that you should expect to hear denials from the trucking company that injured you. I’ve seen many of my clients become upset when trucking companies deny responsibility for a wreck, even if they’ve been warned.
The complaint may say, for example, that the truck driver ran a red light. Maybe there are a dozen witnesses that saw the truck run the red light, there is traffic light camera footage of the truck running the red light, and the police report says that the defendant ran the red light.
“How can the defendant’s answer—a legal document filed in a court of law—deny something that is so blatantly true?” you might ask.
The answer is that the defense lawyers, who are drafting the answer on their client’s behalf, don’t know a lot about what happened. The formal discovery process has not yet begun, so they have no evidence to confirm or deny any of the allegations in the complaint.
By denying everything—even the facts that seem undeniable—they are preserving the defendant’s ability to deny certain aspects of the case later on.
Don’t Take Accusations Personally
Even if you can wrap your mind around the rationale for denying all responsibility for the accident, it is understandably harder to grasp situations where the defense’s answer actually attempts to place blame elsewhere—often on you, the victim!
It’s important at this step in the legal process not to take anything personally—you will only stress yourself out. Deflecting liability to others is part of the gamesmanship of litigation. These types of allegations are called affirmative defenses and may include accusations that the victim was the one actually at fault in the accident.
For example, in an affirmative defense, the other side’s attorney will state that the driver of the car that was hit by the semitruck did not have proper control of their vehicle, and that was why the accident occurred. Lawyers, as a matter of course, assert affirmative defenses like this in the answer until they have had a chance to delve into the actual facts of that particular case.
Denying the allegations and even blaming you for causing the accident are expected and, while upsetting, will have absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the case.
Trust the Process and Your Attorney
Hearing blame directed at you is stressful, but you need to trust your truck accident attorney and the legal process. You can improve your chances of reaching a favorable outcome by hiring an attorney with trucking accident experience. They’ll know how to handle the trucking company’s defense, accurately calculate the compensation you deserve, and thoroughly present your case.
It is your lawyer’s job to see that the evidence and the truth comes out. Remember, the trucking company will deflect blame no matter what—it’s all part of the legal game. With that in mind, if you get upset over it or take the accusations personally, you are only hurting yourself. Keep a cool head and allow your attorneys to earn you the compensation you’re owed.
For more advice on trucking accidents, you can find Semitruck Wreck on Amazon.
David W. Craig is the managing partner at the law firm of Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC. He is board certified in Truck Accident Law. David sits on the board of regents for the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys (ATAA) and has over 30 years of experience representing truck accident victims. David is a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and a proud recipient of the Thurgood Marshall “Fighting for Justice” Award. He was also named a top 10 trucking trial lawyer in Indiana by the National Trial Lawyers Association. To connect with David, visit ckflaw.com.